Where Does the CFL Go After the Success in Moncton?

Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIIMarch 29, 2010

There is no need for the CFL to worry about its upcoming Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton, New Brunswick. 

More than 13,000 tickets were sold on March 24, and the game will be a sellout with over 20,000 fans.

All that remains are a few tickets for promotions, charities, bus packages, and school football teams.

Indeed, the enthusiasm is so great that the CFL can forget about caution somewhat and now ask, where do we go from here?

Now that success is known, what possible paths can be trod?

Here are some doors that are now possibly open to the CFL.


1. Expand the Stadium

The CFL claims that it wants its stadiums to have a minimum 25,000 seats, though it let Montreal get away with only 20,000 after it rejoined the league until this year. If small Moncton and New Brunswick can keep up the enthusiasm for the CFL that small Regina and Saskatchewan have shown consistently, why not expand the stadium to the 25,000-plus mark, leading to...


2. A Permanent Moncton Team

The CFL is impressed with the Moncton game, but the question is, will investors be? Moncton is the most ambitious city in the Maritimes, particularly anxious to show up Halifax and crown itself as THE Maritime city.

One way of proclaiming itself would be to join the CFL permanently. The upstart city, only 29th in population in Canada, has been brazen enough to force its way to the head of the line for potential Canadian CFL expansion.

Although based on population there are probably at least 10 other Canadian cities that would make more solid, sensible choices, you have to factor quality of support into the expansion equation, and Moncton has left no doubt that they want to be considered one of Canada's up-and-coming cities.

Thus, I'm willing to overlook population size and recommend Moncton get a team as a regional provincial franchise like Saskatchewan. Investors, I think you can take a chance on them.

Of course, Saskatchewan fans, if Moncton joins, you can no longer portray yourselves as that cute little underdog team from the city with the small population. You'll have to change your image to an ugly, big, bad, green machine.

Because playing a regular season game has led to a new CFL franchise, it's only natural to...


3. Expand the Moncton Concept

If it worked in Moncton, why not elsewhere? The most obvious choices are the three next largest cities: Quebec, London, and Kitchener.

Football is particularly hot in Quebec right now. Powerhouse Laval University is a consistently good draw, and last year Quebec staged a sold-out Vanier Cup of over 18,000 fans. Quebec is also trying to shed its image as a minor-league sports city by trying to raise funds to build an NHL-size arena. So why not go for CFL football as well?

London and Kitchener also have top university football programs, and they would be good rivals for Hamilton and for each other. Perhaps jealous Halifax can finally be induced to building a CFL-size stadium. If the concept is taken out west, Victoria is the best choice, and there are two other Ontario cities, Windsor and Oshawa.

If the CFL gets more success playing regular season games in non-CFL Canadian cities, it's only natural to...


4. Play the Grey Cup in a Non-CFL Canadian City

The NFL has done this lots of times with the Super Bowl, but the CFL has never tried it. Throw open the bidding for the Grey Cup to non-CFL cities as well as regular franchises and see what happens. Cities like Quebec and Moncton that are currently trying to make a name for themselves on the Canadian sports scene might be induced to making a bid.

Terms for the Grey Cup game would have to be a CFL-size stadium, which would mean one would have to be constructed, thus removing one of the main obstacles to CFL expansion. This, plus enthusiastic support like Moncton, might attract investors who might...dare I say it...expand the league further.

One thing is now certain: Moncton has bounced its CFL future and possibly the future of other non-CFL Canadian cities back into the courts of the CFL and investors.

It's now up to them to make sure that Touchdown Atlantic is not an end game but leads to a rosy future.


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